Stoppage time in soccer is added to the official playing time clock to complete one of the 45-minute halves. In soccer, the running clock never stops, which means that injuries, throw-ins, fouls, penalty kicks, goal celebrations, and more interrupt the playing time of the match. When these moments occur during a game, the referee puts those time-wasting moments at the end of the half to make up for that, which is stoppage time.
So, how do they (refs) determine how much stoppage time to add to a half? Why does soccer have stoppage time instead of stopping the clock, like in the NBA or NFL? Does stoppage time happen at the end of each half, and how much stoppage time tends to occur during games? How should fans interpret stoppage time when it is shown on TV or at the game, and are stoppage time goals common? Finally, what are some examples of what would add additional time to a match via time-wasting moments off the playing clock?
Here is the complete guide to stoppage time in soccer.
How Do They Determine Stoppage Time in Soccer?
The head referee calling the game tracks any “time-wasting” moments that occur during a game, usually with a second watch. For example, a red card moment in the first half that takes about a minute or so to resume action will, in theory, put an additional minute of stoppage time at the end of the half. As the game progresses and gets close to the end of the 45 or 90-minute mark, the head referee will communicate to the sideline official (fourth official) how much time to add via stoppage time.
Officials have been adding stoppage time to games since modern-day soccer began in the 19th century in England. One of the ideas of having an official determine the stoppage time for a game is out of respect for their role. Teams can’t argue if they think they deserve less or more time. Whatever the official believes should be the “additional time” goes since they officiate the game.
Stoppage Time, also known as allowance for time lost, is Law 7 of the Laws of the Game and FA Rules.
Why Does Soccer Have Stoppage Time Instead of Stopping the Clock?
One of the reasons that the soccer clock never stops is to make it simple for everyone. For example, if only one referee calls a High School or pickup game, they have to handle all aspects of the game. That includes calling fouls, looking for offsides, confirming substitutions, and more. The idea that they have to keep stopping the clock after every foul for a few seconds can lead to mistakes, like forgetting to resume the clock after a quick pause, thus creating confusion on the field.
Instead, by letting the clock run the entire time, they can use their best judgment to determine how much stoppage time is necessary to make up for any delays during the game. Usually, you will see the referee have a second watch on their wrist that they use to measure the additional time necessary at the end of the half.
Does Stoppage Time Happen at the End of Each Half?
Stoppage time occurs at the end of each half. Since soccer games are 90 minutes of the official game clock, the halves break down into 45-minute segments. Therefore, if there are five minutes of “wasting time” moments in the first half, the clock adds five more minutes after the 45-minute mark. If there was only one minute of delay time in the second half, then there is only one minute added after the 90-minute mark.
How Many Minutes of Stoppage Time Get Added During a Match?
There is no universal stoppage time that gets added during a match. For example, some games are relatively clean and have no fouls or even goals. The referee could determine that there only needs to be one more minute of stoppage time in the end due to any balls going out of bounds or substitutions.
Meanwhile, there are times when there might be more delays during a game, especially after goal celebrations, that can add a few more minutes to the end of a half. To help limit the amount of wasted time, referees honor the Laws of the Game Rule 12. Rule 12 states that any delay of the game on purpose, like slowly walking towards the ball when it is out of bounds to take time off the clock, can result in a yellow card and a turnover. The idea is to keep the game moving since the clock is running.
What is the Maximum Amount of Stoppage Time in Soccer?
There is no maximum amount of stoppage time that can occur during a soccer game. For example, the Carabao Cup had 28 minutes of stoppage time added due to multiple factors that created delays. The lights went out during the match, and injuries took place, which added close to 30 minutes more of action to make up for the lack of play.
How Does Stoppage Time Work During a Match?
If you are watching a soccer game on TV, they will show the fourth official on the sideline holding up a sign with a red number on it for a few seconds. That red number represents the additional time put in at the end of the half. If you are at the game watching it, you will see, usually on the big screen, the fourth official holding up the sign to make it clear how much time is going back on the clock.
However, it is worth noting that no “official” stoppage time clock is displayed on TV or at the stadium. There is no stoppage clock showing because referees can allow a play to continue after the five-minute mark on a five-minute stoppage time. The referee will honor additional stoppage time to let one team finish a play, especially if they are trying to score. Therefore, you won’t see the stoppage time clock anywhere on TV or in the stadium since it is up to the referee to use their judgment.
Are Stoppage-Time Goals Common?
Stoppage goals are just as common as regular goals during a game. Teams use stoppage time to either play more robust defense to deter a goal from occurring or might be on the flip side and get more aggressive to tie or win a game. The additional time they have is the same as the regular time initially on the clock when they play.
What are Examples of Stoppage Time?
- An injury delay occurs when players need a minute or so to get back on their feet. A longer injury time that results in a substitution will add more time to the clock
A goal celebration
- The soccer ball goes out of bounds or in the stands/ the throw-in.
- A yellow card or red card moment
- Penalty kicks
- Free kicks
- A VAR (video assistant referee) moment where officials need to review a play on a monitor to determine the correct call
- Lightning / any weather that determines that the game won’t be safe to occur
- Any mechanical / stadium issues that occur that stop the action of the play
What is the Difference Between Stoppage Time and Extra Time?
There is a difference between stoppage time and extra time. Stoppage time is additional time that gets added to the end of a half due to delays. Stoppage time can range from one minute and go up from there, depending on what the main referee determines.
Meanwhile, extra time occurs during a knockout stage game, like the FIFA World Cup. If a knockout match is tied after 90 minutes of play, then extra time occurs. Extra time is 30 minutes of play that breaks into two fifteen-minute halves. In extra time, a total of 30 minutes of play needs to happen, and stoppage time can be added during this period. If a game is still in a tie after 30 minutes of extra time, then the game moves into a penalty shootout.
Conclusion: What is Stoppage Time in Soccer?
In summary, stoppage time is additional time that occurs at each half of soccer. Since the clock runs up instead of down and never stops, there are instances where referees need to add a few minutes back on the clock to make up for time-wasting moments. Keeping the clock running without stopping it, even with delays, makes it easier for referees to manage, especially if only one is working for a pickup game.
There are numerous reasons why there are delays during a game. Some reasons include injuries, substitutions, goal celebrations, VAR checks, etc. These game delays might result in a few additional minutes of stoppage time at the end of the half. Soccer games are 90 minutes of official play, which is why there is stoppage time during matches.